Women's responses to changes in U.S. preventive task force's mammography screening guidelines: Results of focus groups with ethnically diverse women

Jennifer D. Allen, Shirley Bluethmann, Margaret Sheets, Kelly Morrison Opdyke, Kathryn Gates-Ferris, Marc Hurlbert, Elizabeth Harden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

41 Scopus citations


Background: The 2009 U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) changed mammography guidelines to recommend routine biennial screening starting at age 50. This study describes women's awareness of, attitudes toward, and intention to comply with these new guidelines. Methods. Women ages 40-50 years old were recruited from the Boston area to participate in focus groups (k = 8; n = 77). Groups were segmented by race/ethnicity (Caucasian = 39%; African American = 35%; Latina = 26%), audio-taped, and transcribed. Thematic content analysis was used. Results: Participants were largely unaware of the revised guidelines and suspicious that it was a cost-savings measure by insurers and/or providers. Most did not intend to comply with the change, viewing screening as obligatory. Few felt prepared to participate in shared decision-making or advocate for their preferences with respect to screening. Conclusions: Communication about the rationale for mammography guideline changes has left many women unconvinced about potential disadvantages or limitations of screening. Since further guideline changes are likely to occur with advances in technology and science, it is important to help women become informed consumers of health information and active participants in shared decision-making with providers. Additional research is needed to determine the impact of the USPSTF change on women's screening behaviors and on breast cancer outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1169
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 12 2013


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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